Every company has brand values, whether they’re formally articulated or not.
They’re a key ingredient to a successful brand recipe and stem from the moral compass of the business. Values are phrases or words that resonate with people, and are indicators of what a company deems desirable behaviours. For example, Jones and Palmer’s values are: Insightful, Courageous, Honest and Supportive.
So, how company values weave their way into homes is a real test for an employee brand – and do we even need them while we’re apart? We’re no longer working in office spaces where written phrases can adorn the space, nor are bosses expecting employees to splash the company logo on their spare room wall behind their set up. We’re looking for that happy place in between, where leaders are offering clarity, trust and consistency, and employees are happily displaying values from the bottom up, engaging with their role and feeling productive. But how do company values permeate through a screen or phone? How do we merge the company behaviours and family values at home?
Companies often pull these values into the decision-making process of company benefits and the design of the environment they work in. Google’s company values are called ‘10 things we know to be true'. It is well known that they offer free meals in their canteens, on-site medical services, and some of the most envious physical investment in the Googleplex space with meditation rooms and break-out spaces. These all play to the strengths of the values, which talk of saving time, not always needing to work at a desk, and offering ultimate trust to their employees. The world is now working from home – now what? It brings up the question of do we rely on our environment to reinforce our value system and to shape them? While Google’s Covid-19 wellbeing guidance literature is a brilliant read, and staff were awarded an extra day off for wellbeing over Labor Day weekend, employees are wavering in their cultural happiness as there are reported gripes over the lack of perks: they are unable to expense their previously free lunches, and working from uninspiring home set ups.
While we’re no Googleplex at 87 Carver Street, we do have cultural perks and traditions in the JP office, especially around this time of year. An elf on a shelf competition, a secret Santa gifting event, a Christmas pub quiz, and many other activities that lift the spirits of the team, bring our values to the forefront and offer enough variation to appeal to all members of the Jones and Palmer tribe. But this year it’s a little different with our distributed challenges, and so every member of the company has had a Christmas box of festive joy delivered to their homes. They are token to say a thank you for the support this year, as well as living the company’s values as best as they can at home. It certainly lifted my spirits, as well as reconnected me with the company and the many faces I haven’t had the opportunity to speak to as often as I usually would have if we were back in the office.
So, with the above in mind, there are three actionable recommendations to look at in instilling the values back into a business, particularly while working remotely.
A staff survey: if you haven’t already done so – do it! We’re firm believers at Jones and Palmer that any feedback, good, bad and ugly, is a gift. Send out a survey to your staff to ask about their wellbeing, how the company culture is helping or hindering them during remote working, how they perceive the brand and how they are able to use the values to help their day-to-day workload. Brand values are a guiding set of behaviours that should make lives easier for employees, not harder, so understanding where your tribe is at is crucial. But the most important element of all is to create an action plan off the back of the feedback to show how appreciated their input and honesty is, and drive the company culture forward during such an uncertain time.
Are you hearing the company values spoken about in conversation? In decision-making processes? Not just outright, but are they being displayed in the day-to-day operations? Remember that it’s been decided that these values being displayed will encourage the business to be the best it can be. Form a company response to the staff survey, whether that is strategic via team managers, or on a one-to-one basis to really hear the struggles or success stories of the individual to see how they can benefit from re-engaging with the company values. Ask your leadership team to use the values in language, build it into their management structure and challenge them to bring new ideas to the table on how their individual teams can be rewarded for best living the company culture.
Life has been very different this year, and to some extent, distributed working may never leave the modern world of office life. If it has taught us anything, it’s that almost everything needs to be planned: we can’t just walk over and have a chat across the office floor, nor are we catching up at lunch, or having a well-earned drink on a Friday night at the pub. Emails are painfully scrutinised for tone; we all know everything is best said in person and, as Covid has wiped out that concept in 2020, a level of planning is paramount. Plan your calls and video chats, encourage more virtual face time, and help bring that office camaraderie to the home desks of the team. This will ease the merging of the two worlds of home and work while ensuring your employees are hearing from like-minded colleagues – helping re-engage them with company values.
To sum up the question: ‘Do we need company values while we’re living distributed?’, I would heartily argue yes. Us humans are creatures of habit and routine, and while living apart, our values keep us on the same page – behaviourally, morally and, most of all, as one tribe. We may just have to get a little more imaginative in how we live these values, and predict that the cultural profile of most businesses will be rather different now to that of 12 months ago. Open up the conversation to your team, engage with the responses and plan for the future of your company culture – from the small communications, to the big strategic changes.
To find out more about how we can help with your communications, get in touch.